If there's one thing fans can agree on when discussing Superman, it's that the guy has had some strange powers over the years. For anyone who has a passing awareness of the character, it's pretty well known that he can fly, is invulnerable, possesses super strength and enhanced senses, heat vision and a few other tricks. When you dig through the comics (and a few films), you uncover some powers the OG superhero phased out or seemingly forgot he had over the years. Granted, a lot of the silliest powers Superman had and lost were culled thanks to the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, but a few remained or popped up over the years.
This list examines some of the weirder powers Superman had, but ultimately lost. Whether he lost them due to the Post-Crisis timeline, the writers forgot about them or they were only introduced for the purpose of a single story, there are a lot of things the Man of Steel used to be able to do, but isn't any longer. For this list, we took 20 of his weirdest powers, long lost to the annals of comic book history, and designated 10 he has gotten by without, and 10 he should think about reintroducing. Not all of his silly powers weren't useful; in fact, most of them were incredibly useful... just weird. Whatever the reason, they couldn't all stay in his arsenal of tricks, which is why we found these 10 weird powers we're glad Superman lost (and 10 he should have kept).
20 LOST: SUPER VENTRILOQUISM
We all know Superman can blow freezing air from his powerful lungs, but there's another power stemming from those incredible lungs he lost over time. Back in the Golden Age, Superman often employed an ability he referred to as Super-Ventriloquism. This ability is pretty much what it sounds like, but instead of simply talking without moving his lips, he used it for a wide variety of reasons.
He could imitate the voice of anyone he wanted and project it literally anywhere. The power was useful and he used it several times to hide his or Batman's identity. He would also use it to communicate with his teammates when they were far away, but the power was phased out as technology made it unnecessary. He may still possess it, but it went away back in the 1960s.
19 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: SHAPESHIFTING
If you ever thought to yourself that it would be cool if Superman was also a shapeshifter, there's a single story where he used that ability. Back in 1947's Superman #45, the Man of Steel found himself the captive of an inter-dimensional alien. He was placed within a living museum and paralyzed by a numbing gas, but he wasn't going to let himself stay captive for long.
In addition to another weird power we will get into, he somehow, and without explanation, transformed himself into the alien being who captured him. This was a complete transformation down to the coloring and clothes. We don't know why he doesn't do this more often, seeing as his traditional disguise could certainly benefit from it. Whatever the reason, this was the one and only time Superman shape-shifted.
18 LOST: SUPER-EATING
One of the most fascinating aspects of Superman's physiology is that he doesn't need to eat, drink, breathe or do any of the mundane things we humans must do to survive. He can simply subsist on the energy he acquires from the sun, but that doesn't mean he can't eat. When it does come to eating, not only can he do it, he can do it better than anyone else!
In Action Comics #454, Superman's strength was being siphoned by the Toyman, which left him weak and exhausted, but also starving! To combat this, he began to Super-Eat! Superman's ability to eat food at incredible rates of speed countered the Toyman's device. He was able to consume millions of necessary calories and while he may still possess this ability, the writers appear to have let it stay in the past.
17 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: TELEKINETIC-VISION
In Superman IV, the Man of Steel was forced to contend with the fact that his actions resulted in the destruction of part of the Great Wall of China. While he could have used his super speed to pick up the bricks and place them back in their original configuration, he wasn't about to be bothered with that. Superman looked at the damage, shot a blue beam of light at the rubble and magically repaired it!
This was, for all intents and purposes, crummy writing. Superman didn't otherwise possess this ability, but it seems the producers wanted to fix up the damage quickly rather than handle it normally. There have been other uses of telekinetic vision including the time Zod levitated a rifle with only his eyes, but outside of the movies, this isn't a power Superman keeps around.
16 LOST: SUPER-IMAGINATION
We get that everything Superman does is... well, super, but sometimes his powers get a bit out of hand. Take the case of Titano, a giant ape who shot Kryptonite lasers from his eyes. In order to save Titano, Superman crafted lead sunglasses for the creature and sends him back through time to the prehistoric past. When Lois confronts him about this asking if Titano was okay, he reassures her thanks to Super-Imagination!
When the story was first published, his ability to look back through time was called "telescopic vision," but this was changed to Super -Imagination when the story was reprinted in Superman Annual #2. Whatever they call it, the ability to look back through the past and see exactly what was going on was certainly cool... but a bit too strange to keep using.
15 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: MIND CONTROL
When Superman was the captive of an interdimensional alien in Superman #45, he had to find a way to escape. In order to accomplish this, he first had to distract his captor, which is when he somehow acquired and subsequently lost the ability to telepathically control someone's mind by concentrating as hard as he possibly could!
In the book, he stared intently at the alien and thought really hard about having him take off his "Dimension-Travel Machine." Within a short period of time, that's exactly what went down. The alien decided he didn't need to wear the device, so he took it off. This left an opening for Superman to acquire it and fully escape... after shape-shifting into the alien, of course.
14 LOST: SUPER-LANDSCAPING
Superman has a rarely used ability he once called Super-Landscaping! To be fair, this was probably more about his super speed than anything else, but there was a time when Supes had to help out his fellow man by literally landscaping an area via his superpowers. This was one of those powers that really didn't need to have the word "Super" thrown ahead of it in the books, but that's pretty much how Superman comics work.
Other similar powers he no longer uses include Super-Baking and Super-Friction, which enabled him to heat up metal to the point of melting/welding it by speeding up its atoms. Superman's base powers enable him to do a lot of good in the world, which, for some reason included landscaping at one point.
13 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: SUPER CLONING HIMSELF
Superman is one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe, but there's only one of him. As it happens, that wasn't always the case thanks to a strange ability he once had that allowed him to copy himself. He has done this a few times, but the best-known example would be the 1998 storyline where he split into a red and blue version of himself.
He had to split himself into two to escape a trap laid by Cyborg Superman, which led to him having to share his life with... himself. Eventually, the two merged back into a single person once more and he hasn't had occasion to split himself since. We aren't certain if he lost this power or never uses it, but it's pretty useful so he might think about breaking it out now and again.
12 LOST: SUPER-MATHEMATICS
We all know Superman is smart, but did you know he had an ability called Super-Mathematics? The only problem was that his math was based on the writers' and they clearly didn't carry the one. After picking up the jar of jelly beans, he weighs it in his hand and declared that one bean weighed 1/20th of an ounce, but the jar weighed 12 lbs.
He then allowed for the jar to weigh 2 lbs. on its own and concluded that 20 times 16 times 10 equaled 32,000! If you're scratching your head at that, it's probably because you know that 20 x 16 x 10 equals 3,200, but we will let that slide. Seeing as he didn't get the math correct, it's probably a good thing he didn't break out this superpower again. After all, nobody likes to math in public.
11 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: SUPER HYPNOTISM
Superman has always been a physical superhero. He uses his fists to beat up bad guys and can shoot heat vision from his eyes. With everything going for him, it's a wonder he doesn't use one of his more impressive mental abilities, which he called Super-Hypnosis. He used it quite a bit up into the 1970s, but it eventually went out of style. The ability was often seen when he would shoot a golden light at someone, which would completely hypnotize them.
Eventually, this ability was somewhat altered to explain why nobody can recognize Clark Kent as Superman. In Superman #330, it was explained that Clark's glasses are made from a special Kryptonian Plexiglas, which enhances his amazing ocular abilities, thus masking his secret identity! That's pretty much how the power devolved and he hasn't used it explicitly since.
10 LOST: SUPER-DANCING
While we are collectively trying to forget Tobey Maguire's dance scene from Spider-Man 3, let's focus on the Man of Steel and his Super-Dancing abilities! Back in 1979's Superman Family #196, Clark finds himself judging a dance competition. Because he's Superman, this wouldn't go on without some trouble, which is why he sees explosives under the dance floor with his X-Ray vision.
Determined to keep everyone safe, he breaks out with some killer disco moves and clears the dance floor. Thanks to his Super-Dancing ability, he vibrates the floor significantly enough to damage the explosives' trigger mechanism. That's right: the Man of Steel saved the day by dancing... of course, it was the '70s and Disco Fever was all the rage.
9 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: PHASING THROUGH MATTER
Superman's invulnerability means he can take a hit from just about anything. As The Death of Superman storyline told us, that wasn't always the case, which begs the question, why doesn't he simply phase through objects that present a significant danger? Thanks to his super speed, he can vibrate his body fast enough to allow his molecules to simply pass through objects.
That's the same ability the Flash possesses, but Superman almost never uses it. The first time he did, it was in an episode of The Adventures of Superman back in 1958. He later used it in his second bout with Doomsday in Superman #175, but for whatever reason, he has barely used it since. This is a power he clearly still has, but since he never uses it, we are saying it's lost... but it really shouldn't be.
8 LOST: SUPER-WEAVING
Not everyone can weave fabric. After all, it's a skill that has to be taught and perfected over time, but not so when you are talking about Superman. In Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #15, Superman not only constructs a loom in a forest, he creates the fabric, thread, pattern and eventual gown to give to his beloved Lois in no time at all. This was one of those stories that fooled the reader into thinking the pair were going to wed.
While it turned out to be a doppelgänger only pretending to be Superman, the power-set was the same. This pretty much means Superman has a Super-Weaving ability. This wasn't just his super speed either -- he clearly knew how to weave, sew and design a wedding dress, which is not something folks like the Flash can do.
7 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: TIME TRAVEL
One of the most useful powers for any superhero is the ability to travel through time, and Superman used to do it a lot. In the DC Universe, there are a number of ways of getting around the time-stream. The Legion of Super-Heroes have their rings and the Flash manages it with his Cosmic Treadmill. For Pre-Crisis Superman, it was all about running as fast as he possibly could.
Superman's ability to go back in time was seen in Superman when he flew around the planet faster than the speed of light. For whatever reason, this caused the planet to spin in reverse, which also reversed time. Forgetting what we know of physics, this is actually an incredibly useful ability. Too bad his time-traveling days were somewhat curbed following the Crisis as this is a rather useful ability.
6 LOST: SUPER-KISSING
Superman has some amazing abilities, but you can't talk about some of his stranger powers without getting into his smooching skills. Back Superman II from 1980, Lois needed to forget that Clark was Superman, so he kissed the memories right out of her head! It was strange, unexplained and surprisingly useful for the Man of Steel, but it wasn't the first time his lips caused some problems for Lois.
Back in Action Comics #306, Clark was "forced" to plant one on Lois after Perry White arranged for them to find one another under the mistletoe. The kiss didn't cause her to lose her memories, but it left her dizzy, sweating and faint. He hasn't been using his Super-Kiss power much in the books or movies since the early '80s, so we are planting this one in a skill Superman lost.
5 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: FORCE BEAMS
Superman II was one of those movies that stand as a classic. It had incredible performances by the entire cast and pitted Superman against foes who could actually defeat him. That isn't to say it didn't come with some issues. Richard Donner was taken off the project and a few changes were made to the Man of Steel and his Kryptonian power set.
One of those powers included an apparent ability to shoot off a beam of destructive light from the palm of the hand. Supes doesn't use it, but Zod, Non and Ursa launch the attack at him in the Fortress of Solitude. It clearly hurt him, but there was no real explanation for the new ranged attack. Regardless, this isn't something he should have given up using, seeing as it appears to be an incredibly powerful attack.
4 LOST: SHIELD TOSS
The final fight scene in Superman II didn't introduce only one superpower for the Man of Steel, it introduced several. The silliest of them all, which absolutely no explanation or precedent for it in the books had to be the cellophane shield Superman magically tore from his chest. He somehow created it and threw it at his enemy until it grew in size and surrounded him.
This only ever happened in this one scene in the movie and has never been repeated elsewhere... which is a good thing. There really was no explanation for this superpower, and while it may have been useful at the time, it's a good thing he lost the ability. It was entirely too silly to exist outside the world of a Monty Python movie, much less be a part of Superman canon.
3 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: TELEKINESIS
Superman's mental abilities were pretty strong back in the Pre-Crisis days, which is why it shouldn't come as a surprise that he used to have telekinetic abilities. As his eyes have previously demonstrated, telekinesis is no stranger to Superman, but back in The New Adventures of Superboy #11, he was able to move criminals with a pink ray emitted from his hands... for some reason.
His telekinesis was further developed into something his clone, Superboy, would use, called "tactile telekinesis," which transferred his mental ability to move large objects via touch. This was used to explain how he could pick up a building, but keep it from falling apart. Eventually, Superman's telekinetic abilities quietly went away, but they are probably still present, if not used or explained.
2 LOST: SUPER RADIO BROADCASTING
Sometimes, it can be important for Superman to communicate with members of law enforcement agencies, but it isn't as if he carries a radio anywhere on his costume. Instead, Superman must rely on a power he doesn't seem to possess anymore: the ability to broadcast his voice over specific radio frequencies at will.
This ability was all the rage back during Superman's Golden Age, but was adapted over the years into his equally strange Super-Telepathy power. To be fair, it's certainly useful, but given the presence of modern communication infrastructure and the handy "hidden earpiece" they use over at the MCU all the time, there isn't much reason for Superman to go about hijacking radio frequencies... especially those used by emergency services.
1 SHOULD HAVE KEPT: SHOOTING SUPERMEN FROM HIS HANDS
What has to be the strangest of Superman's lost abilities has to be the time he was able to shoot off little versions of himself from his hands. This came about in Superman #125 after Superman came into contact with an alien rocket. After the rocket explodes, he loses all of his superpowers! Fortunately, the tiny versions of himself he fired from his fingertips still had all of his powers.
By the end of the story, Superman contends with the jealousy he felt for his mini-me as he believed he was being replaced. Ultimately the tiny Superman sacrificed himself for his larger version and Superman's powers returned to normal. It may be silly, but it sure would be useful if he could use it these days... but only if he could retain his powers at the same time.